A couple of weeks ago the New Zealand Herald published an article of mine about Milford Sound in Fiordland – a place so naturally beautiful that none other than Mr Jungle Book himself, literary giant Rudyard Kipling, once described it as the 8th wonder of the world. And I wasn’t about to argue with Rudyard.
Not that I wanted to either, because having finally now seen Milford Sound for the first time this year with all those striking peaks rising abruptly from the sea floor, it’s conceivable it’s the single most photogenic place in New Zealand. As I write in the article, the two-hour drive in from Te Anau is also a contender for being this country’s premier road trip.
A particular focus of the article is on the outstanding Milford Sound Lodge which is really a how-to of what to do when building accommodation in an environment as precious as this. The lodge has every option from luxury to midrange to budget, and blends in seamlessly to the surroundings. And what surroundings they are, because straight out of my chalet was rainforest, a river and snowcapped mountains. Not to mention a kea or two.
Ah yes, the kea – a highly endangered native bird that also happens to be world’s only alpine parrot. Have a read of the article to learn more about just how rare these once common creatures are.
Something I didn’t have the opportunity to write about in this particular feature was what else we did during our time in Fiordland, namely staying in Te Anau and doing a section of the Kepler Track – one of New Zealand’s nine official “Great Walks”.
Te Anau itself is a charming settlement of roughly 3000 people in a place so geographically blessed most tourists immediately regret the fact they aren’t staying longer. For us it was just the one night and yes indeed, we wished it was more. But whether in Te Anau for a time short or long, I can totally recommend Te Anau Lodge.
A former convent, the lodge runs with the whole nun-theme in a way that is humorous without being either disrespectful or over-bearing. A former confessional now acts as a baggage lift, the chapel is now the dining room and every room is named after something to do with the building’s past life, like the Vestry, for example.
The views over the Murchison Mountain Range are stunning and the property even includes additional sleeping options like an old train carriage converted into a luxury suite. All up, Te Anau Lodge is quirky, but with things like private spa pools in some of the rooms, quietly splendid too.
Regarding the Kepler Track, we caught a water-taxi across Lake Te Anau from the township to the beach that greets the dense native forests of Fiordland National Park. Rain had recently cleared and the sight of the dappled light through the mossy trees was magic. If we’d carried on much further than the couple of kilometres we’d done, we would’ve hit the snow line.
Instead we took the easy/more time-saving option and returned to our water-taxi en route to Te Anau Airport where we caught a scenic flight with Te Anau Helicopters. Humblebrag alert, this was not the first amazing helicopter ride of my life, but as we flew above the forested islands of Lake Te Anau and ultimately touched down in the blanket snow of Mt Luxmore, this was right up there with the very, very best of them. It was incredible.
Enjoy the photos, click here to read my NZ Herald Milford Sound article and click on the links at the conclusion of the images for more.